In the movie The Patriot, there is a scene where Mel Gibson’s character is teaching a couple young boys how to shoot.
He famously says “Aim small, miss small.” If you focus your aim on a small part of your target, you have a better chance of hitting it.
A common mistake when making products is to aim too big. Product developers target “People who sell stuff online” “WordPress site owners” or “stay at home moms.” Aiming big tends to miss big.
If you target “people who sell stuff online,” where do you find them? How do you connect with them when they are all in different places, selling different things, with different needs?
Aiming smaller would be targeting people who sell nutrition products using Shopify. These people are probably hanging out in Shopify groups, reading fitness blogs, and dealing with shipping headaches. You can actually talk to them and find out what problems they are having, so you can provide your product as a solution.
This same concept applies to service businesses, blogs, and even bands.
Iron Maiden is one of the few bands in existence that has managed to stay together for almost 40 years, and they still sell out shows all over the world. They’ve sold more than 85 million albums, a staggering (and highly profitable) amount.
The band has done this without getting much play on popular radio, and being in the very niche genre of heavy metal. They became the best band in the world to a group of hardcore fans, and their success spread from there. They went big by aiming small.
Each small audience is contained inside a potentially larger audience. Young male New Yorkers who love heavy metal are a subset of guys who listen to rock music.
– The Perennial Seller
Iron Maiden became so popular with hardcore metal fans, that “guys who listen to rock music” eventually started buying their albums. The important part is that they didn’t start by making bland rock music anyone could listen to, they made something specific for a small group of people.
Aiming for a smaller niche when you start out does not mean you can’t expand to be big. Facebook started out on a single college campus. Walmart started with one store in a town of less than 3,000 people. Iron Maiden made music that most people hated.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard about aiming small is to think of 5 people by name that will buy your product. This allows you to really focus on what they need, and make sure your product fulfills those needs. If you can’t think of 5 people, you don’t know your audience well enough.
If you aim small enough to get 5 people to buy, you might be onto something big.